Absheer to be honored Saturday

Saturday, April 2, 2016

From Staff Reports

Poplar Bluff's first female mayor and the longest serving member of the city council, Betty Absheer, will be honored at a retirement reception from 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Twin Towers assembly room.

Absheer has served with five city managers: Jim Moss, Dr. Tom Lawson, Doug Bagby, Heath Kaplan and Mark Massingham.

Lawson describes, "Betty Absheer, as a person and as a city mayor and City Council member, has always been a tremendous asset to the City of Poplar Bluff. I don't know if she can ever be replaced. She is bright, humble, soft spoken and I believe she has been a Christian since the day she was born. It was my pleasure to work for her for 14 years and I wish her the very best as a 'retired' person."

While Lawson's position had him working for Absheer, Massingham has worked with Absheer all 27 years she's been on the council. He was serving on the council when she was appointed to replace Ward 3 Councilman Ernie Richardson, who accepted another position in September 1989. She later was elected to the remaining two years of that term in April 1990 - the first of nine successful elections.

Massingham says, "Betty has been a great council person. Betty always has been responsible to her constituents."

Describing her a "great person, a Christian person," Massingham said, she has "lived by those principals, good morals and good ethics. She has been a mentor to a lot of different council people when they come on board."

He adds, she's "served the community and has done a great job of it."

Reid Forrester has a unique perspective on Absheer. Not only has he served on the council with her, Forrester is married to Absheer's niece Susan. Today, he is the chief of staff for Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Calling her a "great leader who is at the end of her career," Forrester uses words like love, joy, always steadfast and always rational to describe Absheer. He said she "went in and served and did her job."

While the City of Poplar Bluff has had ups and downs during her time on the council, Forrester points out the growth of Poplar Bluff over the time she has served on the city council -- the building of Black River Coliseum, constructing four lanes of 50 miles of U.S. 67 north of Poplar Bluff, the Shelby Road and Oak Grove Road projects, the new Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, restoration of the Mansion Mall and Valley Plaza shopping centers and the development of the Eight Points and Cripple Creek commercial areas are other highlights.

He added, the library has prospered, the park department shines and Poplar Bluff has had one of the lowest utility rates of any community in the country,

No matter how emotionally charged a situation, she is always steady and rational, with a steady hand saying lets do right, Forrester said.

Recalling her brother, Paul, also served on the city council, Forrester adds, she is from a rock-solid "family who believes in giving back."

When not taking care of city business, Absheer is busy caring for her family, working with Altrusa and her church, the First Church of God, or working part-time for Cummings Real Estate, where she has been for 11 years.

Fellow Altrusan Diana Clanahan of Poplar Bluff says, "She has been a true joy and a professional person at all times." Clanahan recalls Absheer always is very formal and refers to the Altrusa president as madame president and follows the rules and regulations. "We all love her dearly."

First Church of God treasurer Nancy Elledge said, "She is an amazing lady, faithful to God, her church and her family. I was in her youth group many years ago and enjoyed her leadership and still enjoy her friendship.

Those attending may want to park in the lot on Bartlett Street and enter the Twin Towers through the south sliding doors, suggested RSVP Program Director Jennifer Rosener,

Retired Associate Editor David Silverberg contributed to this article.

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